Garden Named Pan (This Week’s Movies)

Slime mold. The Creeping Garden.

Slime mold. The Creeping Garden.

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Pan. “Wright really wanted to be Steven Spielberg.”

The Creeping Garden. “The Blob was less fantastic than anyone dreamed.” (In case of Herald paywall, Weekly link here.)

He Named Me Malala. “Too distinctive to merely stand on a pedestal for a do-gooder movie.” (In case of Herald paywall, Weekly link here.)

I spoke with Katy Sewall, host of the expat podcast “The BitterSweet Life,” about being in Scotland on sabbatical and some movie things as well. Listen to our conversation here.

Early notice: Tuesday Oct. 20 at 5:30 I’ll be at the Renton History Museum to present “Alien Encounters: Sci-Fi Movies and the Cold War Culture of the 1950s,” a look at how flying saucer films reflected the anxieties of the atomic age. The talk is free with regular museum admission; more info here.

Movie Diary 10/8/2015

Labyrinth of Lies (Giulio Ricciarelli, 2014). Germany, 1958: Idealistic prosecutor hears about Auschwitz, makes everybody feel awkward by bringing it up. The subject matter never gets old, even when the treatment is as TV-movie level as this. (full review 10/23)

The Machine (Caradog James, 2013). Some A.I. action about scientist Toby Stephens and his thinking robots. Denis Lawson is the villain. A pretty terrible movie. For the reason I watched it, check the “Upcoming Events” tab.

Movie Diary 10/7/2015

Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg, 2015). It might be two movies, but both are extremely fine. Spielberg’s casting touch is not only good in tiny little roles, but reaches its apex in Mark Rylance (giant stage reputation, limited movie stardom) as a Soviet spy. (full review 10/16)

Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015). Mostly just an illustrated true-life saga, but a strong cast and understandable outrage help move along this account of the Boston Globe’s investigative bombshell about child abuse and the Catholic Church. (full review 11/13)

Movie 10/5/2015

Pan (Joe Wright, 2015). Nobody needed this movie, but it does have a certain amount of spunk, at least until it all explodes in a 3D extravaganza.And Hugh Jackman actually has presence in it. (full review 10/9)

The Creeping Garden (Tim Grabham, Jasper Sharp, 2014). It creeps/And leaps and slides and glides/Across the floor/Right to the door/And all around the wall/A splotch, a blotch/Be careful of the blob. Wiser words than we ever knew, as this fascinating and wonderful documentary about slime mold makes clear. (full review 10/9)

Martian, The (This Week’s Movies)

Matt Damon, The Martian

Matt Damon, The Martian

Links to my review published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly.

The Martian. “I’m amazed Scott  resisted the temptation to put a dog on Mars so he would have something to cut to at those moments when the audience might not know how to feel.” (In case of Herald paywall, Weekly link here.)

Movie Diary 9/30/2015

Victoria (Sebastian Schipper, 2015). A 138-minute movie, all in one take, which is a useful reminder that if you’re going to try something like this, you should really know what you’re doing. The movie’s sort of about a robbery, although the robbery doesn’t actually take up much time and the heist sequence takes its idea from Gun Crazy, if you catch my drift.

99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani, 2014). Which finds the director as dour and single-note as usual, although the film is generally compelling in its look at the vultures who made money off the housing collapse. Somewhat surprised that Andrew Garfield turns in a fully-formed performance; also somewhat surprised that Michael Shannon (the chief vulture, written as though in an Arthur Miller play) gives a monotonous one.

Movie Diary 9/29/2015

The Walk (Robert Zemeckis, 2015). Last week I complained about the cornball conventions of The Martian. Yeah, so this movie has a lot of those too, but it’s also got antic, light-footed momentum, and genuinely cinematic (as opposed to pictorial) sense of how to fill the screen. Which The Martian lacks. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the guy who walked on a wire between the towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 – you know, at the top. If you’re going to invent digital technology, surely this is what it’s for. (full review 10/9)

He Named Me Malala (Davis Guggenheim, 2015). Standard documentary filmmaking, but if you haven’t made the acquaintance of Malala yet, this is a strong introduction to an uncommonly quick-witted and charming teenager who has already changed the world. Also, if you think theocracy is a good idea, you might want to see this. (full review 10/9)


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